It’s the best in the Mega Man series. It arguably ranks as one of the greatest games of all time. Mega Man II is definitely what made Mega Man possibly the third most popular NES series (the second and first being quite obvious).
Plot: 6 out of 10
Describe this plot in one word: standard. Following his defeat at Mega Man’s Arm Cannon, Dr. Wily builds main robots to destroy Mega Man. He’s not stealing them from Dr. Light this time. No sir, his revenge will be orchestrated by his OWN creations. And just in case they fail, Wily’s built his own fortress called The Skull Castle.
and that is pretty much the full extent to the storyline of Mega Man II. I know this was the 1980s, etc., but not even the brief dialog in later games? Still, I’ll rate it above average simply because of the revenge angle. I like revenge stories. Batman and The Punisher are two of my favorite comic book heroes and my favorite Star Trek movie is The Wrath of Khan, for example. And the last shot of Wily making a last-ditch effort to destroy Mega Man and then begging when it fails works on this level.
Graphics: 9 out of 10
One of the best-looking games on the NES. Very solid. The first eight bosses have close-up portraits this time. The sprites are very fluid. Although Mega Man is looking the same, as he is on all the 8-bit games, including the new ones on the various download services. The backgrounds are absolutely fantastic, particularly the one for Bubble Man’s stage. A treat comes in the form of the Skull Castle. It’s a very solid and intimidating-looking fortress. The Skull Castle would, of course, maintain a consistent presence in this series.
Sound: 9 out of 10
Great, catchy music. A thorough improvement on the original. The sound effects are in large part recycled from the original. But they worked in the first place. Besides, the music’s so good, you won’t notice.
Gameplay: 9 out of 10
The original’s characteristics are mostly here. There is a stage select, Mega Man handles the same, you get the weapons of the first bunch of bosses after their destruction, and several more stages exist in the aforementioned Skull Castle.
One nice addition is energy tanks. This time, you have a quick way of refilling your energy. Another good thing is that you have floating platforms, a jet sled and a wall-climbing device in Item-1, Item-2, and Item-3.
The best part is the level designs. They are so much better than the original. Capcom really outdid itself in terms creativity in this area.
I should note that this is about the only game in the series in which there is more than one proper order to take on the first eight bosses. This is mostly because multiple bosses can be beat with the arm cannon. This creates more replay value than other games in this series.
Mostly, it’s just a great improvement on the original.
Challenge: 8 out of 10
Mega Man II is known widely as the easiest game in the series. I myself can beat it without ever coming close to dying (yes, I can beat the turrets on the seven allotted shots of the Crash Bombs, the one weapon that can destroy them). Part of that can be attributed to the fact that there’s more than one feasible order. Still, the fact is that I can really only remember two parts that ever gave me even momentary trouble.
While this game may be easy, it’s also fun. The cartoonish feel of the games shines through well, creating a good thrill. Just don’t expect to sweat bullets.
Overall: 9 out of 10
Apart from the mediocre plot, this game does absolutely everything right. It’s not really revolutionary like the best games in the Super Mario Bros., Legend of Zelda, and Final Fantasy series, but there may be no better NES game in terms of sheer competence.